Why do mommies have boobies and daddies don’t? Why is the sky blue? What are the Seven Wonders of the World? These are just a few of the many and varied questions kids ask as they encounter the universe, learn their way around in it, and eventually have to write book reports and term papers. Often, though not always, they will come to you for answers. Here are five books (okay, 4, or 6, depending on how you count) you might want to study up in your spare time, listen to in iPod format at the gym, or keep for quick reference when they’re not looking.
What are the Seven Wonders of the World by Peter D’Epiro
The deeper companion to the People’s Almanac and Book of Lists (see below) spells out the history and meaning of great, history shaking lists like the Ten Commandments, The Ten Wise Men of the Ancient World, and the Five Pillars of Islam. While the book is mostly focused on the ancient world and the origin of world religions, some modern cultural listings are included.
Why Do Men Have Nipples?
Why Do Men Fall Asleep after Sex?
Filled with one-page answers on hundreds of pressing questions like these, you might just have the answer to questions like “what purpose do freckles serve” or “why don’t women have hairy chests.” While not all the questions are G or even PG rated, they are entertaining quick reads.
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
If you’ve read “AWalk In the Woods” or “Notesfrom a Small Island,” you may have slightly more humorous expectations from this hefty tome. It’s not a laugh-out-loud funny read, but it will fill you in on everything from the beginnings of the universe through the atomic bomb. I can’t promise you’ll remember everything in it, or anything in it for that matter — it’s pretty intense stuff. But you will know where to go back to look up the answers. It exists also in an audio book, which is good for long drives. Bryson’s voice isn’t the most enchanting, but his writing is solid and aimed at the just slightly higher than average IQ.
Sure it’s a bathroom reading anachronism from 1985, but it’s still chock-full of completely useless information. Useless it is, until you have to have the answer or need to settle a bet. And, it’s still an entertaining read in the john. Does this stuff all probably exist on the web? I’m sure it does, but there’s satisfying heft in these big books filled with information.